Four-day school week will offer financial relief for several school districts

A four-day school week, born out of Utah’s mandated four-day work week, may prove to be the financially smart response to soaring fuel prices. Eliminating one day of school, in order to preserve educational programs and qualified staff members in parts of Kentucky, New Mexico, and Minnesota, has begun to outweigh some parents’ concerns about finding day care for their children.

08/01/2008


A four-day school week, born out of Utah’s mandated four-day work week, may prove to be the financially smart response to soaring fuel prices. Eliminating one day of school, in order to preserve educational programs and qualified staff members in parts of Kentucky, New Mexico, and Minnesota, has begun to outweigh some parents’ concerns about finding day care for their children.

According to Marc Egan, director of federal affairs at the National School Boards Assn., “One hundred schools in as many as 16 states have already moved to a four-day school, many to save money on transportation, heating, and cooling.”

Maccray public schools in Minnesota recently voted to switch to a four-day week in May 2008 in order to save 10% on transportation costs. Maccray superintendent Greg Schmidt said, “The savings for a four-day week just on transportation alone were $65,000.”

One of the pioneers of the four-day week, the Cimarron, N.M., school district is looking to cut energy costs by getting back to its roots. Cimarron Public Schools moved to a four-day week when energy prices shot up in the early 1970s, but has become more “complacent,” letting the heating and cooling systems run even on days off since the end of the OPEC oil embargo, Cimarron’s superintendent James Gallegos said. With soaring energy costs, that will no longer be the case: “As we start the next school year, it’s going to be very minimal on the Fridays that we are off,” Gallegos said.

Webster County School District in Kentucky switched to a four-day week four years ago under economic duress—a state budget crisis left the school in limbo, leaving the district with the option of dropping school days or cutting staff and programs.

The district ended up saving tens of thousands of dollars in fuel and energy costs, helping to cut total costs by 3.5% to 4%, said James Kemp, superintendent of the Webster County School District.





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